Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In a land called Hanalei

Hanalei may well be your pick for Hawaii's best walk-around beach town. You've got the spectacular scenery of the Waioli Mission House, the preserved Wilcox homestead from the 1840s (pictdured), and the nearby Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, with a taro fields that get photographers clicking like maniacs. You also get a funky-arty town center with two shopping areas set well off lazy highway, with more galleries, eat joints and restaurants spread along the river. You won't find Maui-style glam shops, but for sure some finery awaits—along with crystals, surfware, flip flops and camp gear.

The whole place is circled by those jagged green mountains that bleed a handful of white-ribbon waterfalls after rains. Then a few beach-cottage blocks away is Hanalei Bay. Black Pot Beach. Hanalei Pier. Pavilion Beach. Catch this place on the right day (which is MOST days) and you'll never forget it.